Fr. Kevin Francis O’Shea, CSsR: “A long and fruitful witness to faith”

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(Sydney, Australia) Rev. Fr. Kevin Francis O’Shea, CSsR,  passed away on April 18, 2018, aged 87 at Kogarah of the Province of Oceania.  Fr. Kevin was the only son of William O’Shea and Doris Mclnnes (both deceased). He was loved, esteemed and now missed by his community at Kogarah, his brothers of the Redemptorist Province of Oceania and the many people across the world among who he lived his life, the sciences, and the Gospel of the Most Holy Redeemer. A man of faith who contemplated the dignity of persons, a man of wisdom and counsel. The Mass of Christian Burial for Reverend Father Kevin Francis O’Shea CSsR was offered in Mary, Mother of Mercy Chapel, Rookwood Catholic Cemetery on Monday, April 23, 2018, commenced at 11.00 a.m.

With the death of Redemptorist Kevin O’Shea, CSsR, a great light has gone out, for our Congregation, for the Australian Church, and many more. Our provincial, Father Edmond Nixon, CSsR, in a moving homily during the Requiem mass, noted the singularly luminous effect of Kevin’s life in his ability to shed light on the mysteries of faith and the deepest reaches of the universe itself: not only was Kevin a classically trained theologian but also he possessed and continued to cultivate an expert knowledge of philosophy of science and mathematics, not to mention his lifelong interest in the deep things of the human mind itself.

A luminous presence has left us now, but not without turning on the lights for many who heard him over his long life of research, writing, lecturing, and, not to be forgotten, his preaching—in missions, retreats, homilies (and even his much appreciated regular “homily notes”).

For a whole generation of Redemptorist students, even though we had to go our different ways as circumstances changed and many had with later opportunities for international experience, Kevin was our first and greatest teacher. That generation was not particularly blessed in its assessment of seminary life, but we could always return to the luminous influence of this fellow Redemptorist and his ever-stimulating courses in theology — especially in the time leading up to Vatican II and its aftermath. In that context, his familiarity with scriptural and liturgical trends and his openness to theological developments as they occurred, he offered a great resource for what was to come and prepared us for the way the church was changing.

His brilliance as a teacher and lecturer is well grounded in a classical training in the ways of theology.  In a brilliant course of studies at the Angelicum in Rome, “this a brilliant young Australian” caught the eye of many distinguished Dominican professors such as Pere Gagnebet, OP. Though Kevin was to go on and break new ground in his research into the philosophy of science current scripture studies psychology and French phenomenology, he remained firmly anchored in the great tradition of the philosophical and theological wisdom characteristic of St Thomas Aquinas and his eminent expositors.

As a young man in the years following his return from overseas, Kevin contributed to any number of international theological journals and published his thesis on a profound aspect of the Incarnation. Subsequently, he did not write a great number of books– possibly because his mind was so endlessly restless and creative and he had little patience with footnotes and lists of authorities and the demands of writing. He was, however, endlessly productive in his research and his willingness to share it, and enjoy the new resources of the computer and the Internet. More and more, his chosen medium was the lecture in which he would give a perfectly timed exposition on a designated topic. The lucidity of his treatment was especially impressive to his hearers, just as he would finish at the exact moment when the allotted time came to an end.

The clarity, comprehensiveness, and creativity of his exposition brought him many invitations to lecture, both in Australia and overseas.  He was a regular visitor for a number of years to the Jesuit University of Fordham, New York, where his lectures and courses were deeply appreciated by faculty and students alike.

Had he chosen to write more and to publish his findings in book form, there is no doubt that he would be one of the world leaders in the theology of this era. In fact, he chose a more humble style of contribution, not only lecturing but also giving retreats to priests and even preaching missions: the Redemptorist in him would come out!

Kevin has gone into the vision of God, after a long and fruitful witness to faith and to the things of God. His legacy will be cherished by those of us who, however far behind, follow after this man of luminous mind and generous heart in its service of the Word of God and the promise of plentiful redemption.

In all this time he enjoyed quite remarkable health, and that enabled him to keep busy intellectually and generate ever new ideas and perspectives in faith and philosophy. Despite the intensity of his commitment, he remained a friendly and helpful companion,  ever ready to help anyone who turned to him for guidance or clarification.

We Redemptorists and the wider Australian church were singularly blessed with the presence of a remarkable intelligence at work amongst us.  Kevin has gone into the vision of God, after a long and fruitful witness to faith and to the things of God. His legacy will be cherished by those of us who, however far behind, follow after this man of luminous mind and generous heart in its service of the Word of God and the promise of plentiful redemption.

– Anthony Kelly CSsR

www.cssr.org.au

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